"We are facing a fundamental contradiction, we are aware that we need decisive steps towards greater political integration, but at the same time we know that political conditions do not exist". With this quote from Antoni Castells, president of the Advisory Council of the Catalunya Europa Foundation, we include in this article the summary of the "Premi Catalunya Europa Segle XXI", which was held on March 31 in the Aula Europa, headquarters of the European Institutions in Barcelona. The award-winning work was "Of Spitzenkandidaten and European Leaders: The 2014 EP Presidential Campaign in the context of the EU legitimization process". The study, by Francesco Camonita, Ph.D. in Geography and European Cross-Border Cooperation by the UAB, analyzed whether the elections to the European Parliament in 2014 helped to politicize the Euro-chamber, provide it with political parties that compete in elections, and must be accountable to the public, like the state parliaments. Attached, you can find the full transcript of the debate. Both the extracts and the full text are in Catalan and Spanish. The award has the support of Fundació Banc Sabadell.
The event -from which you can download the full transcript- also served to organize the debate "The Democratic Upset: European Response or National Reflection?", With Javier Solana, president of ESADE Center for Global Economy and geopolitical; Carlos Carnero, managing director of the Alternativas Foundation; and Carme Colomina, journalist of the ARA newspaper and researcher associated with CIDOB. Both they and the researcher who won the award agreed that the 2014 elections represented an advance in the conversion of the community legislature into an institution similar to the national parliaments. However, there are still many obstacles to overcome. Proof of this are the multiple crises that the community project goes through; and the statements of the speakers.
Antoni Castells, president of the Advisory Board of the FCE
"Europe is still one of the areas in the [developed] world with difficulties in overcoming the crisis. And it adds to this the refugee crisis, the Brexit, the insecurity and the way of coping together with the phenomenon of terrorism".
"We are facing a fundamental contradiction. We are aware that decisive steps are needed towards greater political integration, but at the same time we know that the political conditions for taking these steps towards integration are not given".
"Monetary Union not only needs monetary institutions, it also needs political institutions, there is no country in the world where the Monetary Union works without common fiscal institutions and behind a common government".
"How do we advance in the political integration, being that the logic of the elections leads to power being decided in national elections, in which Europe is always absent, or present for evil?".
Francesco Camonita, author of the study "Of Spitzenkandidaten and European Leaders: The 2014 EP Presidential Campaign in the context of the EU legitimization process"
"The magic phrase had been added to the renewed version of the Treaty of Lisbon: 'taking into account the outcome of the European elections, the European Council will propose the candidate to the European Parliament'. However, in addition to this I found the annexed statement number 11, where without saying it clearly added a system of joint responsibility and consultations between the Parliament and the European Council".
"At no time do the treaties specify that the candidate will come from the most voted party, and that they come from the Spitzenkadidaten campaign. This could have been a particular obstacle to the campaign".
"The elections have opened a more democratic way in the European Institutions, and all this without having to go through the revision of the Treaties. There has been a politicization of the European political system. However, the process has not helped increase citizen participation".
"Further progress will depend on the consolidation of the Spitzenkandidaten process, and on the responsibility of the new European actors, legitimized [by the elections]. They will have the responsibility to formulate well-defined policies with which citizens can recognize themselves".
"We will have to be careful in the Spitzenkandidaten process with the new obstacles to follow, until the process at the level of treaties and agreements is consolidated, there may be intergovernmental threats, or there may be a risk of lack of unity at the European Parliament level".
Carlos Carnero, managing director of the Alternativas Foundation
"If our countries already have enough in their time of life, the Union is barely in the first five minutes. And it is also built ex novo, because it is the first supranational democracy that has existed in the history of political organizations and of humanity".
"The European Union is facing the Government of very complex things, through very complex mechanisms, typical of a supranational democracy. And in spite of that, and surely for that reason, he has always tried to perfect himself democratically".
"It is clear that improvements must be promoted. For example, the election to the current European Parliament should have essential changes. A transnational list is needed, making the mechanisms of choice more similar".
"We have to convey the idea that the European Union is not asexual. That policies of left and right can be applied, yes, within limits that force in favor of progressive measures".
"Why can not we act against what is happening with the refugees with absolute effectiveness? Among other things because the competence of asylum is not communal".
"If I add the votes of the no in Holland and France [in the referendum of the European Constitution], they add less than the 'yeses' of Spain and Luxembourg. But of course, who are we Spain and Luxembourg? That brings me to the figure of the European referendum to avoid Russian roulettes".
"But the [European] Constitution lives on the treaty! Why Draghi has been able to do what he has done? Because the treaty gives some powers and allows an interpretation that has allowed us for the first time to create the Banking Union, the Financial Stability Mechanism, save Greece, the European semester, the Fiscal Semester!".
Carme Colomina, journalist of the ARA newspaper and CIDOB researcher
"When you look in perspective at this time of migratory crisis, it is the first time that Europe is without leadership, without any leadership".
"We are in a process of transition of institutional power in Brussels, and instead we are in a process of withdrawal by the member states, which have taken, so to speak, the decision-making process. Never before has there been so much profusion of Summits to not decide anything".
"When people vote that they do not [to deepen the integration of the EU], the reading that the European Institutions do on a journalistic level is about communication. They have voted not because we have not explained ourselves well, they did not understand what we were proposing [without understanding the reasons for the rejection]".
"For too long we have interpreted any criticism of the European Union as Euroscepticism, instead of Eurocriticism".
"The democratic malaise is not with Europe, it starts at home, it is a citizen, in general, at each of the elections, so there is a general democratic problem."
"Never as we have now known what worries Portugal, what the Finns think of Cyprus, and what happens in the German elections, we have never known as much as now, but as [Daniel] Innerarity told me in an interview, we do not have the feeling of a common destiny".
"We have to recover a bit of this [European] community spirit, we have to go back to politics in general, to explain things again but believing them a little bit".
Javier Solana, president of ESADE Center for Global Economy and Geopolitics
"One of the main problems we are facing today is the lack of preparation [of the EU] to deal more quickly with the crisis".
"We can not change the disaffection by affection until we see positive results for the lives of our citizens. It is very important to make the pedagogy clear, serious, honest".
"I'm very worried about youth. You have to make an effort because the feeling is lacking, and you have to give something because there is nothing to offer a large percentage of our country. You can not offer them anything".
"The lands where Alternative has grown the most by Germany, 20% that is terrible, are those of Eastern Europe. There is more Europeanism in Western Europe than in Eastern Europe. Why? Because they dreamed that they would give them something that in the end has not gone as well as they expected".
"We have to think better about collective defense issues. If you ask in the Eurobarometer if the people would be for the integration of the armies, the answer is yes, also in the young people".
"The problem is not the European institutions, it is the countries. We have had an election campaign in December, and only the word Europe was mentioned once, when there have been more debates than ever".
"Get it right or wrong [the British referendum], I think that afterwards there has to be a shake-up during the summer, and you have to prepare it and take the big heads of government that can still do, shake them and come out with not just one declaration, if not with some measures to take, urgent".